Plans and Priorities
Plans and Priorities

In November 2015 at the COP 21 meeting in Paris chancellor Angela Merkel joined Mission Innovation. Within Mission Innovation 23 countries (incl. EU) share the commitment of doubling their investments in research, development and innovation for clean energy technologies. This is a huge step forward for the promotion of clean energy worldwide.

The transformation of our energy systems towards reliable and cost effective clean energy is a fundamental part of an effective, long-term global response to our shared climate challenge. A step-change, global effort is required to accelerate the pace of technological advance and cost reduction for clean energy. Research and development are an indispensable prerequisite to achieve these goals with our knowledge, creativity and inventive spirit being our most important resources. We need to work together with all interested countries and bundle our competencies to make a difference. Therefore, the Federal Government welcomes and supports this important international initiative Mission Innovation.

The Federal Government gained a pioneering role by orienting its energy policy towards an energy system based on high efficiency and renewable energy sources. We were thus able to cut the output of harmful greenhouse gases by about 25% between 1990 and 2012.  After the earthquake disaster in Japan in March 2011 and the resulting flooding of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the Federal Government re-assessed the role of nuclear power and set the cornerstones for an energy turnaround: nuclear phase-out and a focus on higher efficiency and renewable energy sources. This turnaround in energy policy, known as the “Energiewende”, has attracted attention worldwide. Central goals are a 50 percent reduction of primary energy consumption, the expansion of renewable energies to 60 percent of gross final energy consumption and reductions of greenhouse gases by 80 – 95 % until 2050. At present, a third of German electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources. In addition energy is used more economically. The energy transition has furthermore opened up important new fields of business. New global markets have arisen in the wake of the expansion of renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy.

Nevertheless, the currently available energy technologies might not be sufficient to eventually realize these ambitious goals while preserving security of supply and a high level of prosperity. The Federal Government therefore resolutely focused its funding for research and development on technologies for the energy transition. At the core of this are intelligent solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, energy conservation, renewable energy and supply systems (including storage, grids and ancillary system services through renewable energy).

But the energy transition is not a matter of technological and economic feasibility alone. It is a national task involving every citizen and affecting all levels of policy-making. The energy transition can only be achieved if related technological advances are backed by our citizens. This requires thematically comprehensive and system-oriented research approaches.  Within the framework of project funding, questions of implementation and social acceptance need to be taken into account in setting priorities for energy research.

Funding programme

Three Federal Ministries work in close collaboration under one comprehensive energy research programme (6th Energy Research Programme). Thereby, the competencies of the different ministries complement each other to promote and support research for the “Energiewende” along the whole innovation chain.

The Federal Government will further increase its already high efforts for clean energy research and development to support the process of the energy transition. Funding programmes will be focused on the main pillars of the 6th Energy Research Programme: energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

At the core of the 6th Energy Research Programme are the following topics and measures.

In the area of renewable energy:

  • Photovoltaics: increasing efficiency, reducing cost, increasing lifetime and reliability of all components and the whole system, reducing materials use.
  • Wind power: R&D for onshore and offshore application, reducing cost, increasing availability and environmental compatibility.
  • Current funding measures address for example: Smart electricity grids, energy storage, materials research for the energy transition.

In the area of energy efficiency:

  • Industry, trade and services: R&D for innovative components, new processes and methods for decreasing energy demand, enhancing demonstration for an accelerated transfer of R&D results.
  • Building sector: Leveraging opportunities for increased efficiency and integration of renewable energy in the heating sector. A new funding initiative “Solar Buildings/Energy Efficient Cities” has been initiated.


Recently, the funding initiative “Kopernikus Projects for the Energy Transition” has been started. Its eponym, the famous mathematician and astronomer Nikolaus Kopernikus, stands for scientific excellence, courage, and a new conception of the world. The planned Kopernikus Projects form a comprehensive R&D initiative for the energy transition, so far dealing with the four topics: Future Grid Structures, Power-to-X, Industry Processes, and Energy Systems Integration. In these projects large consortia consisting of scientific institutions and universities, private companies, and organisations of the civil society work together for up to ten years to develop technological solutions for the transformation of the energy system. High-level representatives from over 90 institutions and organisations contributed their views and opinions to identify the four most important topics for a successful energy transition.

In addition to the previously described measures within the 6th Energy Research Programme the Federal Government will initiate new programmes which will complement existing R&D activities. An example is the SINTEG initiative, standing for “Smart Energy Showcases – Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition”. It aims to develop and demonstrate in large model regions exemplary solutions for a climate-friendly, secure and efficient energy supply with high proportions of intermittent power generation on the basis of wind and solar energy. Another example is the recently started technology introduction measure for new and innovative household fuel cell systems.

Methodology for determining baseline

The baseline is calculated by averaging the budget for project funding within the 6th Federal Energy Research Programme on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies for Fiscal years 2012 to 2015. On average 450 Mio. € were spent in respective research areas within this period.

Country definition of clean energy R&D investment

The funds available within the individual ministries are primarily aimed at particularly innovative energy technologies that promise to be successful in the long term and are important for Germany’s transition to a sustainable energy supply. Energy policy will therefore focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage technologies and grid technology, the integration of renewable energy into the energy supply and the ways in which these technologies interact with one another. Clean Energy under this definition does not include nuclear energy.